ZIMBABWE’S senior national rugby team are intensifying their preparations for the upcoming 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup with the squad expected to go into camp tomorrow ahead of the opening match against Morocco at Harare Sports Club next Saturday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The Sables, who recently held a similar camp at Falcon College in Esigodini and the High Perfomance Centre in Pretoria, South Africa, last month are working hard to fine-tune their final preparations for the crucial continental championship.
The 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup will double as the qualifier for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Zimbabwe are gunning for their first appearance at the global showpiece since 1991.
“The final camp will be incredibly important because we are getting into our final very first Test week as a new group and everything will have to be precise in terms of how we prepare without deviating too much from our usual routine,” Sables team manager Kudakwashe Chirengende told NewsDay Sport in an interview yesterday.
“The medical team and the head coach have really emphasised this point and it’s crucial that everyone is on the pulse to achieve productivity next Saturday,” he said.
The squad to go into camp is expected to be announced today with former South Africa Under-20 lock Jannie Stander expected to be the only new face from the team that travelled to Pretoria.
The 25-year-old Pumas second rower — who featured for the South Africa at the 2013 Junior World Championship in France joins older brother Johan, who played for a Zimbabwean invitational side against the Blue Bulls in Harare in April.
The Limpopo-born brothers qualify to represent Zimbabwe through ancestry.
Head coach Peter de Villiers is however expected to keep faith in the squad which travelled to South Africa recently.
The squad which toured as the President’s XV side is a mixture of both locally and foreign-based players, while de Villiers has also managed to strike a balance between youthful and seasoned players.
Forwards: Denford Mutamangira (captain), Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, David Makanda, Connor Pritchard, Brian Nyaude, Farai Mudariki, Matthew Mandioma, Gabriel Sipapate, Fortune Chipendu, Kudakwashe Nyamufaringa, Jannie Stander, Johan Stander, Biselele Tshamala, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Kevin Nqindi, Njabulo Ndlovu, Lawrence Cleminson, Michael Botha.
Backs: Shingi Katsvere, Kudzai Mashawi, Brendon Mandivenga, Matthew McNab, Lenience Tambwera, Hilton Mudariki, Peter du Toit, Ernest Mudzengerere, Ngoni Chibuwe, Dylan Baptista, Ziyanda Khupe, Riaan O’Neill, Kuziva Kazembe, Takudzwa Kumadiro.